The political activist and anarchist Emma Goldman once famously said that “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”. Does that mean we should bother at all come May 7?
In actual fact voting for most people for much of British history was illegal. From 1265 to 1832, less than 10% of the adult male population had the right to vote. Between 1838 and 1848 a popular movement, Chartism, organised around 6 demands including universal male franchise and the secret ballot. It was not until 1918 that any women were able to vote in Britain and it took all the way until 1928 (only 87 years ago) for all adult men and women to be given the vote.
Groups like the Chartists and the Suffragettes worked tirelessly to fight for the right of ordinary people to vote and so it’s important to realise having the vote is an important gain that people have made in the battle for democracy. Often it does feel, especially to young people, that none of the political parties represents them but I would nevertheless recommend going along to the voting booth, even if it’s only to spoil the ballot and show your dissatisfaction, simply to support the principle of a democratic society.
It is likely that the next government that is elected will be led by either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party, but there are also other parties to choose from such as
UK Independence Party
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
As well as many more smaller parties as well as regional parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are over 7 million students in the UK, most of whom are eligible to vote, meaning that as a voting constituency we are able to massively affect the outcome of May’s General Election, so why not have your say?
Remember to register to vote here at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. All UK, Irish and Commonwealth citizens are eligible to do so and you must be sure to register by April 20.
To find out more visit the UCLU General Election 2015 site
External Affairs & Campaigns Officer